How to Generate Better Leads at Business Events

Experts share what works and what doesn’t.

By Jack Carter, Untangled

For some, being a good networker comes naturally and making new connections, whether professionally or personally, is when they’re at their happiest. For others, it is a task they’d rather pass onto a colleague.

Here, professionals from different sectors of the events industry share their tips and insights on how to generate quality leads.

Agency view

Germán Inostroza, global marketing director – corporate division, MCI Group

How useful can casual networking events be when meeting new people and trying to generate business leads?

Germán Inostroza Headshot

Germán Inostroza

Networking events are one of the most useful platforms you can find to generate business. To have the opportunity of meeting new people is like opening new doors for you and the company that you represent.

The digital world is playing a great role because once you establish a relationship, you can knock on the door of that person via email, social media, phone, or video, keeping in mind that you have to maintain the relationship and provide value to that new contact.

Tell us about an event that promoted networking in a creative way.
I am very much in love with the type of networking that gives you the opportunity to meet with a client in a leisure context when you are doing business. For example, when the appointment is scheduled to take place by the beach and you and the client are found walking barefoot, or when you arrange for a bike ride, … or another scenario where you are assigned to solve a riddle. These are instances when you get true opportunities to create strong relationships.

Can you share your top tips on generating quality business leads?
Do proper research on the professionals you are scheduled to meet. … By looking at their LinkedIn profile you can find common interests, or learn more about their career path. Also, make sure you act naturally and provide the right answers to questions and “own” what you are selling. But the most important tip of all is to listen!

Corporate view

Marissa Irons, events manager for global insurance company

Marissa Irons Headshot

Marissa Irons

Networking can take place in a variety of different settings, both formal and informal. Which do you prefer when it comes to generating business leads?
I like both styles for different reasons. With a one-to-one meeting, you can have frank and open discussions without interruptions. However, in a more informal setting, like a cocktail reception, people are generally more honest with a drink inside them and they are more confident to speak freely.

Tell us about an event that promoted networking in a creative way.
I have attended many fun and unique examples where there has been plenty of creative networking. One of my favourites was when an audience used an interactive app to ask panellists questions on the stage. I thought it was a great way to get audience members to stand up and introduce themselves, as well as giving the panellists a chance to understand the most pertinent issues in the room.

Can you share your top tips on generating quality business leads?
My top tip is be confident and don’t be scared to introduce yourself to people. It’s the only way to get involved in a conversation, and you definitely don’t want to miss anything interesting.

Hotel view

Kai Schömann, managing director, hotel republic

What kind of environment do you find works best for generating business leads?

Kai Schömann Headshot

Kai Schömann

I find one-to-one meetings are best for hotel presentations. That’s why we organise many office meetings, because it’s where we can show off our properties, but also ask meaningful questions about the agency and their clients’ meeting needs. However, cocktail receptions or dinners with MICE clients are very good for relationship building, which is also very important.

Hotel republic hosts a variety of networking events of its own, how do you ensure that delegates are able to make meaningful connections with your hotel representatives?
We always try to come up with new and creative networking events so that we can attract some key buyers. … The MICE clients get so many invitations … our events need to stand out from the crowd.

Recently, we rented a nail salon in central London and invited our clients for a manicure. We served drinks and food and during the manicure our hoteliers were able to present their hotels on a one-to-one basis. We also try to incorporate our hotels’ theme or locations into our events. For our Swiss client, Mövenpick, we organised a baking competition where the clients had to bake the perfect swiss roll.

Can you share your top tips on generating quality business leads?
It’s quality, not quantity. We would rather organise a small event with key buyers than big receptions with lots of buyers.

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